Silva-Dawson, who studied on the institution’s Design Products course, explored the possibility of replacing polymers dervied from fossil fuels with an organic waste material that can perform in the same way.
For her Protein project, she sourced waste milk from a dairy farm in Sussex, which throws away 3,000 litres of skimmed milk each week.
“That’s just one farm in the UK, so 3,000 litres a week is, potentially scaled up, a really big industry,” Silva-Dawson told Dezeen.
The production process starts similarly to cheese-making, using heat to separate the curds from the liquid whey. The curds are then dried out in an industrial dehydrator and mixed with a natural plasticiser to turn them into pellets.
According to the designer, these can be used in the same way as synthetic plastics and moulded with existing machinery.